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tv   Newsmakers  CSPAN  July 19, 2009 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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that's what we might find at the end of the day the last question is a person one. i thought you were going to ask about my legal career.
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omali east march, it's kind of you to ask, i play music with a group of guys, have done so for 20 years. we're kind of busy trying to make sure we maintain fiscal responsibility in these tough times. all of us need something else to do, whether it's fishing or bowling or playing music, so every now and again we get to play. but it's mostly in pacements now is our primary venue. but thanks for asking. host: governor martin o'malley, former mayor of baltimore, thank you for being with us. come back again. guest: thank you, steve. host: tomorrow morning, we continue our look at some governors gathering in biloxi, mississippi. our program will include judy feder, she was involved in the clinton administration's efforts on health care. we'll get her perspective on how to pay for universal health care
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coverage. also proposed expansions for medicare an medicaid. mike rounds, republican governor will be joining us, and jim douglas, republican of vermont. that's all tomorrow tomorrow morning on "washington journal." enjoy the rest of your weekend, have a great week ahead. one more from july 20, 1969, have a good day. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> up next, "newsmakers" with
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arizona democratic congressman mike ross. then we'll show you some of the senate's confirmation hearing of supreme court justice nominee sonia sotomayor. then the national governor's association meeting in mississippi on emergency preparedness. >> joining us on c-span's "newsmakers" program this sunday is mike ross, from arkansas and chair of the task force for blue dog democrats. and anna and david, health care reporters. let me begin with an open-ended question. what would it take for you to support a health care bill as it moves through different committees in the house and on to the senate and the president? >> let me be clear, the conservative democrat, known as the blue dog coalition we support health care reform.
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this is different than the energy bill, the cap and trade bill, there were some people that were not trying to get to a yes. with the health care reform bill, everyone wants to get to a yes, everyone acknowledges we have to fix health care. so to specifically answer your question, we agree with the president we've got to do much more to contain costs. we need to provide a greater ex-temmings for shawl businesses so we don't put them out of business, while at the same time ensuring we provide coverage for employees of the small businesses. then we've got to address the regional and rural disparities exist in the medicare reenforcement rate. this is not about the doctors, though it is about some of the rural hospitals. we lost a hospital in my home county that my grandmother was a nurse at back in -- for much of
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her life back in 1985. i represent 150 towns, a very large, rural district, about half of arkansas. a number of those towns, doctors are no longer accepting new medicare patients. once you become medicare eligible or once you move into a community and you're on medicare, it can be a three-month wait, right now, to be able to get a doctor. to start seeing you as a patient on a patient-doctor basis. you add millions of people to that equation through this so-called public option, which they, you know, are content -- they contend should be based on medicare rates, how long will the wait be for them? six months? a year? it's one thing to provide everybody a shiny new insurance card, but it's another thing to be able to use that to see a
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doctor. that's one of the big concerns we have. there are many more. we're considering between 12 and 24 amendments to the bill as it's marked up in the house energy and commerce committee. but the big one for us as fiscal conservatives is containing costs. if we don't contain the costs no one is going to have health care in the not too distant future. >> some of those costs were outlined by the c.b.o. director. first question. >> there seems to be two issue, one is how to pay for it over 10 years and secondly, most importantly, how over the long-term do you get the rate of growth of health care to go down a little bit so it doesn't swamp the budget and cause every's rates to raise. the c.b.o. said he didn't see many ideas in the house bill.
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what would you like to see in the bill to rein in the long-term costs of health care? >> you're correct doug elmendorf, the c.b.o. director, dropped a bombshell when he said this bill does not go nearly far enough at containing costs. in fact, it will increase the debt long-term. that admission by the c.b.o. director, we believe validates what the blue dog coalition has been saying about this bill for the last three months. and of course, since senator conrad came out and opposed the house version of the bill yesterday as well. it wasn't a good day for the bill. i believe both of those validated our concerns. we've got to find ways to contain costs and quite honestly, we don't have all the answers. but i'll speak to some of the ways we believe costs can be
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contained. but i think it's important for the viewers that they understand why we've got to do health care reform. i know some people tell me, you know, we've got -- we're in the middle of the worst economic recession since world war ii. we've got record debt, record deficits, so why health care reform now? those are the very reasons why we do need to do the right kind of health care reform now. i know a lot of people are worried about national health care. half the people in america already have it. it's called medicare, medicaid, schip, veterans health care, military retiree health care, you add those national health care programs to social security, that consumes 40 cents out of every tax dollar today. if we do nothing to control and contain the cost of health care because health care is growing at twice the rate of inflation, has been for many years now if
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we do not contain the cost, we do not get health care growing at the rate of inflation, that 40 cents out of every dollar to fund those national health care programs plus social security that i'm talking about that will reach 100% of our revenue by 2040, which means we'll no longer have a department of defense or army or navy or air force or marines or coast guard. as a nation we cannot afford to let that happen. >> you're talking about the problem with the long-term costs. what do you think should be done about it? mr. elmendorf, one thing he mentioned yesterday was currently the health benefits receive through the your employer are not taxed. a lot of economists thought if you did remove that exclusion to that tax, that would be one way over the long-term of reducing the cost of health care. is that something you support? >> i think that's a bad idea in the middle of the worst economic recession since world war ii. i think that's really getting to
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how you pay for it, which is a ways and means issue, and i'm on energy and commerce, we deal with policy issues, but in terms of -- i don't know if we can get health care down to the rate of inflation or not, but i do believe we can do better than it being twice the rate of inflation. for example, i think we need -- one of the ideas the president put out there is medipac, where you would take the politics if you will, out of the medical decisions. and have a commission with oversight from the secretary of health and human services that makes those decisions. instead of having 535 members of congress making the tough choices. as it relates to the costs as well as the reimbursement rate system of i mean, i don't know if that's something i'm for or not, i'm just saying i want to learn more about it, the president has thrown it out
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there, i think it should at least be on the table. this is the biggest reform of any domestic issue in my lifetime. and to try to speed this thing through committee in five days i think is ridiculous. i think we need to slow it down we need to look at every option on the table and find ways we can really contain costs to stop the rate of inflation. not only can we never balance the federal budget again until we get health care costs under control, but the 160 million who have health insurance today, they won't have it in 10, 15, 20 years from now. we're already seeing the employers shift manager and more of the cost to the employee. in the next 10, 15 years, depending on whose numbers you want to believe, it's going to reach a point where neither the employer or the employee can afford it. a lot of issue along the way started thinking we were talking about health care reform for the
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48 million who do not have it. certainly that's something we need to address. when the president called for health care reform, i was one of the members at the white house for the health care summit, and he made a few things clear. one, this is about making health care costs grow closer to the rate of inflation. so those who have it today will have it tomorrow. the second thing he said was, if you like the health insurance you've got today, you'll always be able to keep it and you'll always be able to choose your own doctor. i think we need to go back to the basics and back to where president obama laid out this need for health care reform with those very important principles. >> you must have some specific ideas, what will the blue dog coalition be doing on the energy and commerce committee specifically to be able to turn this bill around the way you
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think it should be going to bring spending down? >> we're going to offer between a dozen and two -- and two dozen amendments to the bill. some of those are still being drafted. as you know, the text of the bill did not come out until, what? tuesday? then the manager's amendment which totally rewrote the bill and added 200 pages to it. it was 1,000, now it's about 1 rnings 200, came out yesterday -- what would that be -- on thursday of this week. our staff has been working well into the evening to draft some amendments. we're looking specifically at waste, fraud, and abuse in the health care system. we're looking specifically at the things in medicare that are broken and that need to be fixed. then we've got to look at chronic disease management. there's a company, i believe in south carolina, all their employees got the same health insurance plan. and yet what they did was they
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had a group of diabetics voluntarily participate in a chronic disease management program provided and another set that didn't. and they followed them over just a short period of time, a year or two, all had the same health care coverage, one group with a chronic disease were managed, the other wasn't. they all started at $11,000 a year in health care costs. that group of diabetics and the fact is that after the pilot project, those that weren't under some type of managed care, coordinated care program, even though they had the same health insurance plan, those that weren't part of that, their costs went from $11,000 to $16,000. those that were, their costs went from $11,000 to $6,000. there's a lot of ways to squeeze
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savings out of the system while continuing to allow people to choose the plan they want as well as be able to continue to choose their own doctor. >> some of those ways, specifically, c.b.o. said they can't quite gauge how much would be saved from doing something like that or whether anything would be saved. how do you deal with that sob stackle where you might not get a -- obstacle where you might not get a cost on this? >> that's us from trailing, what the c.b.o. will score as a savings, and what they will not. those areas where they do score savings, every area they believe there could be a savings, every area the administration believe there is could be savings, all of these issues should be on the table, we should debate them not rush through a five-day markup to meet some artificial deadline. we've been trying to get this done since teddy roosevelt, i understand, as it relates to
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health care reform. we're very close. i think we've got a real opportunity to do it, but we want to do it right. i don't understand why there's a rush to do it by august 1 when we very well could have a bill that could actually pass the house in september. so part of what we believe is we need to slow down and take our time and get all the facts and do it right. the other type of things i believe we should do is listen to the experts. you know, not just c.b.o., though we should look at where they think there's savings, but there's areas they can't score as a savings, but health care professionals, doctors, nurses, hospitals, can tell you there will be a savings in certain areas. so just because c.b.o. doesn't score it is not the reason why we should not look at it. >> just to be clear. are you saying the bill in its current form would not pass the democratic-controlled house? >> correct.
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yeah. the -- there's -- number one, you've got the c.b.o. director saying it's going to increase the debt loverple. the whole purpose for this bill was to bring health care down to the rate of inflation or closer to the rate of inflation and to begin to bend the cost curve as it's become referred to. and this, according to c.b.o. director this has the opposite effect. it increases the debt in not short term, which some could understand it might short term, but he's indicated it will increase the cost long term. you've got new democratic members, freshmen, who are indicating that they think it's a bad idea to propose the kind of tax increase there's been proposed at this time. this is not just the conservative movement that has problems with the bill. i can tell you a number of the
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more progressive members of the democratic caucus have come up to me on the floor during votes and thanked me for trying to slow this down and do it right. so to answer your question, there are seven of us on the energy and commerce committee that are blue dog members. we're joined at the hip on this. we've been meeting several hours every day to work through these amendments and ways to try and get the bill to a place where we can vote for it because of the reasons i outlined, we need health care reform. this bill doesn't go nearly far enough toward containing the costs. and then in terms of the democratic caucus as a whole, there are a number of people, i think they would be a significant number of votes short in passing it on the house floor right now. they certainly don't have the seven votes required, there are seven of us on the committee. >> do you have a number? you said significant, how many?
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>> i vnt done like a while count of all 435 members of congress, but just from the discussions that i've had with various members of various political philosophies from progressive, to conservative to moderate, there's a lot of concern with the bill as it's currently written. >> you mentioned tax increases and one of the president's goals was to make sure the cost of the bill, which in the house is in the neighborhood of $1 trillion over 10 years to make sure that is offset and doesn't add to the deficit. what the ways and means committee has done is put a surtax on upper income taxpayers that would raise about $550 billion to pay for the cost of the bill. do you support that pay-for? if not, what would you put in it place -- in its place? >> i don't think we should consider any tax increase until we've first identified and implemented into the
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legislation, written into the legislation all the costs savings -- cost savings we can find. what the american people want to us -- want us to do. i think the american people are willing in a fair and equitable manner to help pay for a health care plan that ill ensure they've got health care now and in the future. but they first expect us to squeeze every ounce of savings in waste, fraud, and abuse out of the current system. quite frankly, that's going to mean rethinking how we deliver health care. we now pay providers to treat the sick. we need to rethink how we reimburse providers. it should be based on the value of service and the outcomes. there's a lot of things that we believe should at least be on the table for consideration and
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my concern is that in this health care reform debate, we're not taking the time to debate and make decisions on the tough choices. some of which may not be politically popular. but it's kind of like we're throw manager money at the problem to see if we can sugar coat it and get on down the road a ways. this is a unique opportunity for us to really reform health care in a way that will ensure that our children, our grandchildren, future generations actually have a health care plan that works for them, one that they can afford. >> have you sat down with chairman waxman of the energy and commerce committee and shared these concerns? has he agreed to any concessions before you offer your amendments in markup? >> we're in negotiations with chafrpble waxman. he's indicated to us he recognize he is can't pass the
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bill out of committee without the seven blue dogs that are on the energy and commerce committee voting for it. he clearly understands that this is a bill we cannot support in its furnt corm -- in its current form. thursday night we spevent a couple of hours with him after votes. we've had a number of meetings like that in the last few days. we've spent 45 minutes last monday in the oval office with president obama discussing our concerns. prior to that we spent a couple of hours with speaker pelosi on at least two different location -- occasions, majority leader hoyer and other leaders on a couple of occasions and specifically with chairman waxman, the seven blue cogs, conserve -- blue dogs, conservative democrats on the energy and commerce committee, sat down with him and tribed helpful. we're not trying to kill health care reform.
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we're trying to be constructive and give us a bill that does a better job of containing costs, reducing the rate to the rate of inflation and one that can be passed on the house floor. >> it seems like one of the pobs is what you're going to do to address cost concerns. you said you're not much in favor of the tax for costs, it doesn't sound like upt to tax health care benefits. why haven't blue dogs come out with specific proposals to pay for it short-term and long-term. i don't mean a bill, necessarily, but why not give the chairman and other members ideas specifically of what you'd like to do. with regard to the surtax, $1 trillion over 10 years is a lot of money. why haven't the blue dogs been more specific about what policies they'd like to see?
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>> several reasons. one we believe we can save more savings out of the current system. we don't think they've adequately done that. >> enough to pay for health care reform? >> it could be, if we did the basic reforms that are needed to ensure that those who have insurance today have it tomorrow, to address the needs of the uninsured. you know, there's a lot of thicks we could do different than what is being done in this bill. this bill expands medicaid from 100% of poverty to 133% of poverty with the federal government paying the extra 33% not just for the next five or 10 years, i believe the senate bill, they pay over five years and pass it on to the state. the house bill, it's -- they'll be paying up to 400% of poverty to help you pay for your
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insurance. the house bill has it at 400% of poverty. for a family of four making $88,000 a year, and very few in arkansas a year, so for a family of four making up to $88,000 a year, they'll qualify for a government subsidy for their health insurance. the governor of arkansas, if he had to two exirn still hat home, would qualify for is -- for a subsidy for health insurance. i think it could be brought down to 300% of poverty, still would cover families making up to $66,000 a year. there's a lot of items in the bill with big costs, hundreds of billions of dollars worth of costs. that's two examples that total hundreds of billions that i ticked off. those might could be scaled back a little bit. that's one way -- but that's just the cost of the actual bill. the bigger issue here, the
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bigger issue here is containing those costs so we stop health care from growing at twice the rate of inflation. that's what this debate originally was all about. those are the things we think should be done first. specifically to answer dave's question, we haven't focused on the revenue side of it because the seven of us that put the brakes on health care reform in terms of the current bill, again will we'll offer health care reform, the seven of us that put the brakes on it, the blue dog democrats on the energy and commerce committee, we have our plate full dealing be e-- with the issues we have jurisdiction over. revenue items falls in the house ways and means committee, we're not a member of that committee. we're focusing specifically on the items within our committee that we can this seven of us, can have a direct impact on. >> it is realistic to think
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speaker pelosi would go for a leaner bill? i'm thinking it's not boing to be -- going to be the case, you'll have to take a vote when it goes to the floor on raidsing taxes on the wealthy. can you support that? >> friday's -- in many publications i remember reading on friday in several publications, speaker pelosi at the insistence of freshmen democrats is saying maybe we need to rethink the surtax on the rich. i think we're a long way from settling on how we will get the revenue needed to pay for it. one thing east for sure. this is what we believe. it should happen in this order. number one, squeeze every penny of savings out of the current health care system we can. after we've done that successfully we need to figure out how much it's adding to the debt. we don't need to borrow any more money from china. it took george washington
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through bill clinton to put this country $5 trillion in debt, it took the last president to double it. we're for fiscal accountability and common sense being restored to the government. we believe it should not add a penny of new debt to our government and at the end of the day, it's god to be -- got to be paid for. it that will require difficult digs. if everyone benefits from this, all 300 million people in america, if there's a shared benefit, there should also be a shared sacrifice in how we pay for it. before we even get to the revenue that's required to pay for this, we've got to first squeeze every -- every cent we can of savings out of the current system. i've given you several ideas of how we believe we can do that. medicare part d, remove the doughnut hole by negotiate twheg drug manufacturers to bring down the high cost of


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